SCOTUS Rules in U.S. v. Bryant

June 15, 2016

A decision in U.S. v. Bryant was released Monday. The case raises the question of whether a provision in the Violence Against Women Act, which allows tribal court convictions to be considered when determining repeat offender status for the purposes of sentencing, is a violation of the Sixth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment guarantees indigent defendants appointed counsel in any state or federal criminal proceeding in which a term of imprisonment is imposed, however the Sixth Amendment does not apply in tribal court. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that Bryant’s convictions in tribal court, where he was not represented by counsel, were valid at the time they were entered and therefore they were valid as prior convictions in determining Bryant’s status as a repeat offender. A copy of the decision is here. For an analysis of the court’s decision, check Turtle Talk.


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